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Signs You Can't Tolerate Beer

If you notice any of these signs you can't tolerate beer, it's a good indicator that you may want to switch to wine.

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We've all had bad hangovers, or times when we drank a little too much and ended up spending the night wrapped around a porcelain throne. Sometimes, however, the negative side effects of alcohol aren't your fault, especially if you only had one or two drinks. A wide variety of allergic reactions can be traced to alcohol, and no alcohol is the root of more allergic reactions than beer. Beer contains a variety of ingredients, especially grains, which are linked to numerous allergies. If you experience any of the following signs you can't tolerate beer, you may find that a simple switch from beer to wine makes your drinking life far more enjoyable.

Celiac or Gluten Sensitivity

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If you already know you have celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, then beer is definitely not destined to be your beverage of choice! Due to the grains involved in its production, beer almost always has a significant amount of gluten. If you have celiac disease, your immune system will not be happy with the beer in your system. If you have a more minor gluten sensitivity, you may be able to tolerate a moderate amount of beer, depending on the type of beer. While some of the best gluten-free beers from major breweries have the potential to be a safer option, your best bet is to avoid beer altogether. Luckily, a good cocktail or a glass of wine will generally be entirely gluten-free, so imbibe these at your heart's content! If you're looking for a closer gluten-free alternative to beer, hard apple cider is naturally gluten free, and is quite similar to beer, if a bit sweeter.


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Pulsing tension headaches are one of the most common signs you can't tolerate beer or alcohol. While just about anyone may experience a gnarly headache the morning after a heavy night of what causes hangovers, you may find that you experience a noticeable headache after just a few sips of beer or other alcoholic beverages. If you experience this, it may be a sign that your body is intolerant to alcohol, and your best move is to avoid alcohol for the rest of the night, and preferably altogether until you can speak to a doctor to figure out what's going on.

Brain Fog

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Different people experience symptoms in a variety of ways. For example, you may not experience pains that necessarily constitute a headache, but you instead experience what is better described as a fog. A fuzzy brain or foggy head is actually a common symptom of an allergic reaction. If you start to feel a little fuzzy after just a few sips of beer, it could mean you're in the first stages of an allergic reaction. While it's possible to be allergic or intolerant to alcohol in general, your reaction may also be in response to a specific ingredient in the beer.

Puffy Eyes

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If you're experiencing some mild symptoms, but not enough to confirm whether you have an alcohol allergy, try taking a look in a mirror. Look closely at the skin surrounding your eyes to see if they look puffy or sore. Puffy eyes are another one of the more common symptoms of an allergic reaction. If you catch yourself experiencing puffy eyes alongside other symptoms after a pint, these are strong signs you can't tolerate beer.


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It's not pleasant to think about, but diarrhea can be an important indicator that you should change your drinking habits. Alcohol causes your body to absorb food allergens more easily, so having a strong reaction like immediate diarrhea after enjoying a couple beers is one of the more noticeable symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Luckily, experiencing diarrhea does not necessarily mean you should avoid alcohol altogether. You may find that different types—and amounts—of alcohol effect your body in different ways. If beer gives you the runs, try a glass of wine the next time you want a drink instead. You may find that you do not react as strongly.

Bloating and Inflammation

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After a pint or two, you may experience inflammation in your gut or excessive bloating. This may likely be the result of the ingredients in beer reacting with your stomach or intestines. Beer includes high amounts of grains, like barley, and severe bloating is a sign that your body is not adept at digesting these ingredients. For this reason, bloating and inflammation are signs you can't tolerate beer, but they don't necessarily mean you're intolerant to alcohol in general. This is another case where you might find your problems are alleviated by switching to a gluten-free drink like hard cider. 


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Fatigue is a hard symptom to pin down. Alcohol is a natural depressant, meaning it'll make anyone sleepy, so a feeling of tiredness isn't necessarily cause for immediate alarm. Further complicating matters is the fact that most drinking happens late in the evening or at night, when you're predisposed to be getting tired anyway. So fatigue alone is rarely enough to diagnose an alcohol allergy. If, however, you find yourself frequently feeling unnaturally fatigued when you are well-rested and just starting on your first beer, it's a strong sign you should keep alert for other symptoms.


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Like fatigue, feelings of anxiety are extremely hard to pin down as symptoms of alcohol intolerance. It may be that you just had a stressful day, or maybe alcohol is just exacerbating your anxiety. A sudden onset of anxiety after a couple beers, however, can also be an indicator that you're intolerant to alcohol, or experiencing another sort of allergic reaction. This is especially the case if you don't experience anxiety outside of drinking. Alcohol use is precariously intertwined with mental health, so if you experience any worrying symptoms of anxiety when you drink alcohol, your best move is to stop drinking until you can see a doctor to figure out what might be going on.

Stomach Pains

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Just like many of the symptoms on this list, stomach pains can be traced to any number of causes. Maybe its from the weird bar food you had with your beer, or maybe you're coming down with a bug. The exact cause of a stomachache is hard to pin down, but listen to your body and be mindful of any patterns you notice emerging. If you experience stomach pains every Saturday night and the only constant is that you were drinking beer, it's definitely time to stop drinking for a while, or at least switch to a different form of alcohol.

Other Allergic Reactions

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If you're having adverse reactions to drinking beer, keep in mind it might not be because you're intolerant to alcohol or beer in general. Beer can be produced with an very wide variety of ingredients, including hops, wheat, barley, and various other grains. That's not even including the incredible array of additional additives that can appear in beer. Many of the best craft beers of 2018 are flavored with citrus or other fruits; as well as, coffee, chocolate, or any number of other ingredients. If you have an allergic reaction to a beer, try to learn as much as you can about the ingredients in that particular brew to see if something unusual is triggering your reaction.

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